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‘I Don’t Know’: Ben and Jerry’s Co-founder Stumped When Pressed About Israel Boycott Hypocrisy
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield at the global announcement of Ben & Jerry's ice cream going 100% Fairtrade on February 18, 2010 in London, England.
Gareth Davies/Getty Images

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen was visibly stumped when Axios pressed Cohen and fellow cofounder Jerry Greenfield about the pair banning their company’s products in parts of Israel, while still selling their ice cream in Republican-led states like Georgia and Texas, where pro-life and election integrity laws they object to have been implemented.

As highlighted by The Daily Wire, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, imposed a boycott of the Biblical areas of Judea and Samaria in Israel.

“You guys are big proponents of voting rights. Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas — abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?” asked Axios’ Alexi McCammond.

After a six-second pause, a frazzled Cohen told McCammond, “I don’t know.”

“It’s an interesting question,” he attempted to answer. “I don’t know what, what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights, and — I don’t know. You know, I mean, I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”

McCammond later claimed “every woman” who lives in Texas has been “stripped” of abortion “rights,” further pressing the Ben & Jerry’s co-founders on their Israel stance.

“By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere,” Cohen offered. “I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country.”

Greenfield tried to rationalize the disconnect. “One thing that’s different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law,” he said. “And so I think that’s a consideration.”

Earlier in the discussion, McCammond asked how the pair felt about loyal customers having an issue with their Israel policy, particularly since they’re both Jewish men.

“You have some loyal customers who think that the move is anti-Semitic,” the Axios reporter said. “You’re both Jewish men; how did it feel personally to be wrapped up in accusations of being anti-Semitic?”

“Totally fine,” Cohen said, laughing. “.. I mean, what, I’m anti-Jewish? … I’m a Jew, my family is Jewish, my friends are Jewish.”

Greenfield said the Israel boycott is “not a financial stance; it’s a policy stance.”

“Ben & Jerry’s publicly supported Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, but over the years the company continues to sell more ice cream and thrive,” he said.

The Daily Wire highlighted in August that Ben & Jerry’s franchisees located in major American cities wrote a letter asking Unilever to rescind the Israel boycott due to profit losses.

“There is a danger that the pursuit of social justice will descend into political correctness or result in the adoption of overly simplistic solutions by people who share a single view of the world that misconstrue complex problems in which multiple claims of justice are implicated,” the letter stated. “The imposition of such narrow prescriptions does not advance social justice or the pursuit of a values-led business in any meaningful way.”

“Those who feel strongly about Israel that they want to boycott it or some part of the territory it administers are free to do so,” the letter closed. “They cannot, however, do that at our expense. We believe this decision needs to be re-examined and withdrawn.”


Related: Backlash From Inside Ben & Jerry’s: Franchisees Losing Money, Want Israel Boycott Gone

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